A Summery Surprise

Soon after my last post, in which I decided to take a short break from cross stitch, I received a surprise parcel in the post. It seems that I am on a lucky streak, as I had won yet another subscriber competition from the World of Cross Stitch magazine! The prize was this absolutely wonderful ‘Flowers’ chartbook by Susan Bates. It’s one of a series, and I would also like to get the Vintage motifs one to go with this.

Flowers Chartbook

There are a ton of designs in here I want to stitch, and I really feel inspired to start sewing again. I did go out and get some quilling materials to give that a go, and also some more card making supplies and some model kit pieces and…well, to be honest, I spent a lot of money but didn’t actually do much crafting. Shame on me!

The designs are all bright and modern, and super clear to read with beautiful inspirational photos showing the finished pictures. The pages are thick and glossy and the whole book has a really high quality feel to it. Here’s the design I’ve chosen to stitch first – I want to sew this onto a little runner to go under my potted herbs in the kitchen, by the window.

Flowers Chartbook (2)

Happy Summer, everyone!

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Skyscape Completed, Plus Kit Review

Skyscape is done, pressed and framed! Hooray!

Skyscape Finsihed

Admittedly, the frame is not a perfect fit, but it’s good enough for now. I found it lying around in a pile of spares, and I really can’t be doing with trying to get a custom sized one at the moment. Here’s a close up of the details in the beading and metallics to distract you from the poor framing ;D  :

Skyscape Detail

I’ve put it up in a hallway with my Bioshock poster, and another print in similar colours, and I’m pretty pleased with how it looks:

Skyscape Hung

Please excuse the horrible wallpaper, my apartment is a rental so I can’t change it no mater how much I want to!

As usual, I’m going to sum up my experience with this kit in case any readers are planning to buy from the same company or designer. The kit is ‘Skyscape’ by Classic Embroidery, and the designer is Barbara Thompson

Here’s a look at the kit contents – Anchor threads, a silver metallic, some opalescent beads, 14 count aida and 3 needles, for cross stitch, backstitch and beading respectively:

Skyscape Contents

PROS – 

  • Really good quality materials, even the metallic thread was a pleasure to stitch with.
  • I adore the designs in the series, art deco is one of my favourite styles and I think they’re really unique and unusual. They look really modern and elegant displayed in a home compared to some of the more traditonal / old fashioned designs available.
  • Super simple to follow chart in a large print, with an easy-to-read key and symbols.
  • It was very fun to stitch and quick to complete, with lots of large areas of the same colour.
  • Very detailed instructions, ideal for cross stitch beginners
  • Great customer service from the team at Classic Embroidery

CONS – 

  • Nowhere near enough silver metallic thread provided, I ran out less than halfway through the project. However, one quick email to Classic Embroidery and there was a brand new skein posted to me free of charge. There was plenty of all the other materials.
  • Black and white only chart – not that colours would have helped me much, but I know some people prefer it!

May 2015 – Pansies Kit Review

I spent most of May working on larger projects, none of which are finished enough to show here, but I did get time to make a birthday card for my mother-in-law.

Pansies birthday card - DMC Floral Quick Kit

Pansies birthday card – DMC Floral Quick Kit

I found this little DMC Floral Quick Kit in yet another bag of inherited stash. I think it must be very old as I can’t find any internet references to this series of kits, except for one or two eBay listings, but it has held up well  and had no wear or damage at all. I did make one small change and backstitched the leaves and stems of the flowers in green instead of black, because I had a lot of green left over at the end and I thought the black looked too severe on the model. Looking back, I think the leaves lack definition now, so I should have either stuck with the black and just did as I was told, or looked for a darker shade of green. I’m not the best at following instructions, I tend to just wander off with my own ideas sometimes when I really shouldn’t!

DMC Quick Stitch Floral Kit - Pansies

DMC Quick Stitch Floral Kit – Pansies

Even though you probably can’t buy these any more, and it is a super tiny kit, here’s a quick review.

Pros – 

  • Tiny and very quick to stitch, as the title suggests! I think it took me about two evenings to get this done. Also a good size to be turned into a card or small gift.
  • Lovely traditional design, perfect for someone with more classical tastes.
  • High quality materials and printing. Chart was easy to read and the threads had not worn or frayed over time.

Cons – 

  • Black and white chart only, backstitch instructions were therefore unclear but manageable. No suggestion on number of strands to use, so I just went with what felt right.
  • Ran out of pink thread about half way through, and had to salvage a similar colour from another kit. No thread numbers provided to make an exact match,

2-Year Project Complete!

2 years ago for Christmas, I received an Anchor Maia kit – ‘Geishas’ – and I have been working on it, on and off, ever since. Well, today it is finally completed, washed, ironed and framed:

Geishas - Completed At Last!

Geishas – Completed At Last!

My poor photography skills really don’t do justice to the vibrancy of the colours and the amount of detail in this picture. I am so pleased with how it turned out, with the exception of the faces. I usually refuse to work anything with human faces in cross stitch because I just don’t think it ever looks good unless the piece is on a really huge scale. I prefer to stick to traditional embroidery techniques for faces where possible, but I suppose the faces are such a small element of this piece that they don’t really detract too much from it.

Detail close up of the lower left

Detail close up of the lower left

Above is a sample of the detail that went into this pretty large (30 x 40 cm on 18 count aida) piece.

Anchor Maia - 56780000-01025 GEISHAS kit

Anchor Maia – 56780000-01025 GEISHAS kit

I thought I should take the opportunity to do a quick review of this kit, in case anyone else was looking to buy it, so here’s a short bullet point summary of my experience.

Pros – 

  • Really good quality materials, excellent value for money. Most of the threads were full skeins of Anchor, the rest were pre-sorted into a beautiful rainbow of vibrant colours.
  • The chart was split into four and the backstitch detail was printed in several colours, so it was generally easy to read and understand.
  • The design is made up of lots of different elements so I never found one area tedious or boring. Lots of different colour changes and subjects held my interest throughout – and it helped that I did lots of smaller commissioned projects while working on this!

Cons – 

  • The amount of threads provided was inconsistent – I found I had several untouched skeins left over but ran out of two colours entirely.
  • My chart was misprinted in places, it looked like the original had subsequently had another chart printed over the top in some areas. Fortunately it was quite faint and I could still make out the original symbols.
  • In another area of the standing geisha’s hair ornament, there was an area of backstitch indicated in a colour that was not specified in the key, so I had to guess what looked closest to the picture on the box and just hope for the best!
  • Finally, in what I suspect is just me being overly picky, the model used on the box has not been stitched according to the instructions provided, and I feel that it is slightly misleading! For example, the gingham pattern on the purple and blue obi looks like it was done in long stitch, which looks far better than the backstitch indicated on the chart.

I think my tiny complaints take away only a little from my overall opinion of this kit, and the Maia range in general, which is very positive. Looking at other stitchers’ completed pictures, I am always envious of how beautiful and detailed they look, and now I can proudly hang one on my wall next to my own vintage kimono!